We need to talk about The Good Place

I love The Good Place, basically. Which is a little terrifying, quite frankly, given that most of the shows I loved last year were cancelled. But, to be real, that’s exactly why I am talking about it. (I already lost The Grinder, guys. I can’t take another hit.)

 

The Good Place

 

What I Dig about the Show:

The characters: So I am basically in love with all of the characters so far, which is A+++. Also, can we talk about Chidi and Tahani and how they are both basically me for different reasons? I mean, no, I am not a gorgeous former model and/or philanthropist, but I talk pretty much non-stop just like Tahani. I related to her (very brief) vow of silence on a cellular level is what I’m trying to tell you.

And that moment when Chidi got all excited about teaching Eleanor how to be a good person and he got all giddy about the essays and tests? LITERALLY ME. Why, just Thursday I was super excited about the test I wrote for my Comp 1 students. And my level of excitement may have been equal to Chidi’s. CHIDI IS MY PEOPLE. Yay professors! (Also, his professor outfit was very cute.)

The premise: There is so much I love about the premise! The idea that people in The Good Place aren’t necessarily saints is fantastic. I also love the idea of soulmates here: it’s clear that a soulmate is not an obvious match, so much as a person who challenges their partner to be the best version of themselves. Also, so far, the soulmates are all character foils, which just makes my lit teacher nerd heart sing. I mean, Chidi is an ethics professor? The loquacious Tahani paired with the monk who has taken a vow of silence???? I am dead.

My daughter has a theory that there is no Bad Place–there is the Good Place where people like Eleanor learn to become better (caring, compassionate, and less selfish) people. I countered with that there is also the fact that even doing good things doesn’t necessarily make you a good person. Obviously, there are clear differences between Eleanor and Chidi (and even Eleanor and Tahani), but, well, even Tahani and Chidi have their flaws. And even Michael does! I mean, he kicked a puppy for goodness sake! INTO THE SUN.

(That might be the moment I fell in love with the show. Don’t judge me. Wait, isn’t “don’t @ me” the new don’t judge? Or am I using that wrong? #oldladyquestion)

Anyway, given what happened at the end of episode three, she’s probably right.

The orientation video:

 We paused and rewound a couple of times to see all of the different point categories. A+ there.
Also, I am very obviously pleased by all the diversity. We were so happy to see same sex couples in the soulmates section of the video! Aw.

Maybe next week I’ll talk about some of the other shows that premiered, but for now I am all 😍😍😍😍 about The Good Place so have nothing substantial to say about them.

So, did anybody else watch? If not, what are you waiting for? It’s on NBC and streaming on Hulu! It is the business. Be a cool kid and watch.

Catching up on one thing, at least: Monday reading

I didn’t post last week because, although I finished a book, I didn’t know what I was going to read next. Like, I honestly had no clue. My work schedule is so hectic (I’m teaching an overload, so six classes instead of my usual five) that my brain is mostly mush–not to mention I’m behind on everything. And by everything, I mean EVERY SINGLE THING. It is maddening. And unlike with my usual beginning of semester behind on everythingness, I’m not really seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.

As the kids say, it me. source)

As the kids say: it me. (source)

Continue reading

Full-Cast Play Productions: An Audio Experience

The topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about audio and rather than list my favorite narrators or audiobooks, I’m going to take this opportunity to talk about a different kind of reading/audiobook experience I had this summer.

This summer, I actually spent quite a bit of time listening to plays, which if you have never done that, I highly recommend it. The plays I listened to are all full-cast productions so all of the characters are played by different actors. If you’re wary of audiobooks or not sure if they’re for you, I think full-cast productions are the perfect entrée into the format.

When we watch plays (or TV/movies for that matter), I think we take for granted how much work the dialogue has to do. So I really appreciate listening to plays because they give me an even greater sense of how much work the dialogue does in terms of setting the scene, establishing character/character relationships, and advancing the plot–all without huge dumps of exposition (if it’s done well, of course).

I listened to 3 1/2 full-cast plays this summer. Here are the three I actually reviewed over on Goodreads:

Continue reading

Where is God? On tragedy and hope.

Today is the 15th anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Flight 93. I was still living in the DC area at the time and remember very clearly where I was and what I did on Sept. 11, 2001. I worked not far from the Pentagon but was at school on that particular day.

I tried to think of a way to talk about the attacks and my feelings, but I was a very different person then who processed grief and shock very differently. Instead, I’m sharing a sermon I wrote this summer about Ezekiel 37: 1-14 as the culmination of a sermon writing seminar I took at my church.

Continue reading

I can complicate anything–even my fall 2016 TV viewing

It’s Monday & I survived Hurricane Hermine

Also, the start of the semester. One of those is more impressive than the other. Hint: it’s the one related to school.

Kidlit version hosted by Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen of Teach Mentor Texts; original version hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Kidlit version hosted by Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen of Teach Mentor Texts; original version hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Hello! I haven’t participated in this meme in a while (since mid-July! wow!), but I read two awesome books this week and wanted to share. I was going to do an August wrap-up, but honestly, all you need to know is that the best book I read last month was Days with Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel, which is, of course, a re-read. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all had a friend like Frog? I think so.

Continue reading

Diversity on the Shelf Link Up: September 2016

I was about to get all teacher-y and ask about AYP (adequately yearly progress). As it is, I just hope everyone is plugging along and moving closer toward their goal for the challenge. I’m right on track. How are you doing?

Btw, I am still looking for someone to take over hosting the challenge for next year. If you’re interested, drop me a line at theenglishist @ gmail.

Lastly, please encourage each other by clicking on links and reading and commenting on reviews! It’s not required, but it is nice. It’s also a great way to build up a community of readers committed to reading diversely.

Diversity on the Shelf 2016

Link up your reviews below. If you don’t have a book blog, but have Goodreads or Library Thing, etc., you may use that to participate and post your links to your reviews. Get more details about the challenge here. It’s not too late to sign up!

Save

Dear English/Lit teachers of the world, just stop

I recently finished J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter & the Cursed Child and then went online and read some reviews (as one does). And I saw an alarming pattern in quite a few of the reviews I read.

Therefore, I have a request:

Please, please, please, please, PLEASE stop telling your students that plays are meant to be seen and not read.

PLEASE.

First of all, it’s not true.

Second of all, they then go out into the world and keep spreading that nonsense in book reviews and blog posts and however else they share information with each other.

Here’s the thing: plays are absolutely meant to be read. They start out as scripts. Plays cannot be produced, acted in, directed, costumed, lit, etc. unless the people involved with the plays READ THEM.

In fact, reading a play takes just as much–if not more–imagination as reading a novel or short story. It’s all about teaching students how to read and engage with the form.

And, yes, details are added in the production of a play that brings it to life, but one person’s interpretation of a character or scene or whatever can be different from another’s, which is why the same staged play can play out differently for different audiences depending on who’s involved with the production.

But isn’t that the same with reading a novel?

Maybe someone prefers to see the play, which is fine, but let’s stop with the whole plays aren’t meant to be read deal, okay? It’s fine to say that sometimes plot or action becomes clearer in the seeing of it, and, yes, Shakespeare tends to be better experienced when we see it since the language can be a bit inaccessible. But, you know, people read the play to put it on for us, so the script is the thing–or, rather, the script is the basis for the whole thing.

And it has to be read. And it can be read and understood. It just takes a different kind of effort is all. So stop telling your students it can’t and shouldn’t be done.

Thank you.

Worst First Day Ever? Possibly. But Maybe Not.

Normally I am Nemo on the first day of school, but today I felt like Marlin.

To start, none of my classes are fully loaded into the LMS our school uses. Not a single one. I thought I had finished one (early even!) but realized yesterday or the day before that I had prepped it for a face-to-face course and not a hybrid one. (Hybrid courses are mostly online with a face-to-face component.) Oh, and I realized last night that I had just completely forgotten all about putting one of my classes in the LMS. Just…totally forgot it.

To be clear: my courses are fully prepped and planned out for the semester, and my syllabi are done. However, I like to have every single assignment and due date and supporting document locked and loaded into the LMS by the Friday before school starts. I like to have all my syllabi and course documents that I need for the first day copied by the Friday before school starts.

And last night, I was just trying to make sure I had the first two weeks of my classes that started today in there. And then I felt bad for all the times I had secretly mocked people who waited until right before their classes start to make copies of their syllabi.

Today, I ate my words and my smug judgmental mocking. Today, I was one of them.

And of course the printer wasn’t working when I got to school today. OF COURSE. Because wasn’t that just what I deserved?

(I may be being just a touch melodramatic here. Obviously, the not working printer affected more than just me. HOWEVER, I probably felt it the most because of the lack of preparation shame. But I digress.)

However! They day was not a total loss. My three classes went well (we read and discussed “The Cinder Maid” since the first part of the semester will focus on Cinderella stories), and only one went under time. One ended perfectly in time and the other almost went over. The discussions were good, though, and my students all had good energy.

And, really, isn’t that what matters most in the end?

Save

Ten Random Facts about Me

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is rewind aka pick an old topic and do or revisit it. Well, I’m rewinding all the way back to July 12th’s topic and sharing some random facts about myself.

 

1. As I get older, I have less and less tolerance for mean humor. That’s one of the reasons I had to quit watching Blackish, in fact. It just felt so mean to me.

2. The TV characters I relate to most are Dorothy Zbornak from Golden Girls and Peyton Sawyer from One Tree Hill. The book character I relate to most is Ursula Riggs from Big Mouth & Ugly Girl. Hello, let me show you my issues.

Continue reading